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Jim Furyk leads by one at PGA Championship

Conditions get tougher at Oak Hill as Furyk shoots a 68 for a one-shot edge over Jason Dufner, with a couple of Swedes and Masters champion Adam Scott chasing.

August 10, 2013|By K.C. Johnson
  • Jim Furyk watches his tee shot at No. 18 during the third round of the PGA Championship on Saturday at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
Jim Furyk watches his tee shot at No. 18 during the third round of the PGA Championship… (Justin Lane / EPA )

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Beep, beep, beep.

That's just the sound from moving day at the PGA Championship, where several of the second-round leaders shifted to reverse and backed up on a sun-splashed Saturday at Oak Hill Country Club.

Wind appeared for the first time. It swirled just enough to sweep away the plethora of birdie chances that had defined the first two rounds. Only two of the final six golfers broke par 70.

One of them, Jim Furyk, will take a one-shot lead over second-round leader Jason Dufner into Sunday's final round. Furyk's two-under 68, which featured a par putt from the fringe on No. 18, pushed him to nine under, two clear of Henrik Stenson, the other player from the final three pairings to break par.

"We just saw the pin spots get tough and scoring in the final groups was very, very difficult," said Adam Scott, whose two-over 72 from the final pairing with Dufner dropped the Masters champion into a tie for fifth at five under. "With so much danger around, it's hard to be completely free with major pressure on the line."

The carnage also claimed Furyk's playing partner, Matt Kuchar (76), and Stenson's, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (77). Jonas Blixt, Stenson's fellow Swede, charged into fourth, three shots back, with a four-under 66.

"There were tough conditions," said Stenson, who shot a 69. "The wind made for backing off a few times. And it's not an easy course, even though we might have made it look a little easier at times earlier in the week due to the soft conditions."

Even Furyk's five-birdie, three-bogey round was more a struggle than a stroll. He bogeyed two of the first three holes and lipped out a par putt on the par-three 15th that he rectified with a birdie on the difficult par-four 17th.

"I was able to not let things faze me," Furyk said.

That hasn't always been the case for Furyk this season. He missed the cut at the U.S. and British Opens and, until recently, treated his putter like a garden rake.

"I was getting to the point earlier in the year where I was tired and probably a little angry on the golf course," Furyk said. "I wasn't having a lot of fun. It's hard to play like that. I made a conscious effort months ago to turn that around."

Unlike Saturday's weather, Furyk's disposition isn't often construed as sunny. He chided reporters after his opening 65 for being too negative and clearly is tired of the subject of his final-round meltdown at last year's U.S. Open.

But the reality is Sunday is an unlikely and wonderful opportunity for the veteran. If the 2003 U.S. Open champion hoists the Wanamaker Trophy, he will join Ben Crenshaw and Julius Boros as the only golfers to claim their second major after a decade break.

"I know someone is going to mention that I'm 43 and that I'm old and how many more chances am I going to have," Furyk said, having fun with the give-and-take again. "You know, I'm not in the grave yet. Tomorrow is an opportunity. I'm going to have fun with it."

That's exactly the approach Dufner promised after his one-over 71 that included a double bogey on the par-four fifth.

"It's not very good to play from that seventh pond on the fifth hole," Dufner cracked.

Dufner kept his sense of humor intact, even if his putter balked. The putts that repeatedly dropped during his record-setting 63 on Friday stayed up. He needed 33 on Saturday after 26 a day earlier.

For the second straight day, he had a tentative finish, back-dooring a seven-footer for a clutch par on No. 18. That monster of a hole could play a starring role in the final round.

"It'll be an interesting day," Stenson said.

Aren't Sundays at major championships always?

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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